His wholehearted response to Tony McCoy in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month was insufficient to rid Albertas Run of the notorious Timeform squiggle, awarded to especially unreliable or uncommitted animals. Perhaps that will change if he digs deep for another Grade One prize at Aintree today, just 22 days after a hard race, but for now you could not know what to expect of a horse who made hard work of a distant third in the equivalent contest last year.
Forpadydeplasterer's relative consistency makes him a more obviously reliable candidate for the John Smith's Melling Chase, but stepping up in distance could suit an old rival rather better in Kalahari King (3.10). Taken off his feet in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival, Kalahari King kept on bravely for third and returns to the scene of a stylish success at last year's meeting.
The horse who sank a thousand Irish ships by beating Dunguib at the Festival tries to confirm his Champion Hurdle potential in the opener, but Menorah had a gruelling race at Cheltenham and meets several fresh, unexposed rivals. A stylish hurdling debut by Captive Audience (2.0) suggests he could be the horse to draw wider attention to his impressive trainer, Rebecca Curtis, and at the odds he offers each-way insurance against the favourite running below par.
Menorah's stablemate, Voramar Two (4.20) sat out the rigours of Cheltenham but had annihilated some useful rivals in the first of two easy wins stepped up in trip at Taunton. Burton Port sets the standard in the novice chase after finishing second in the RSA Chase, but he has had a busy winter and Ogee (2.35), who ran well in handicap company at the Festival, returns to the scene of his biggest success over hurdles last year.